Sunday, July 20, 2014

“The Purge: Anarchy” [USA, 2014]

Nine Things About the Movie The Purge: Anarchy

1. I was one of the few people that really liked “The Purge”. It was sort of misadvertised, so I understand why people didn’t like it. It’s an epic idea - there is one night a year where all crime is legal. But the movie itself focused on one family in one house, so a lot of people thought the movie was wasted, silly, and unrealistic.

2. The reason I liked it so much is because I realized early on that it wasn’t really a horror movie. Sure there is a home-invasion thriller plot, but the movie itself wasn’t about that. It was a harsh allegory of American culture. If you can recognize the political, religious, and classist undertones, the movie unlocks itself for you and becomes a smart, engaging black satire. But most people didn’t recognize that, so they thought it sucked.

3. So for the sequel, they tried to fix those problems, to make it more accessible. So everything becomes more obvious. The social undertones of the first movie become blatant overtones in this one. The action moves out of one house and literally into the streets, where nobody is safe because the cops are all off duty.

4. It’s a decent flick, but they went a little too far in the other direction. There are multiple plots in this movie - each one showing the adventures of a small group of people who find themselves out in the open city when the Purge begins. During the Purge, the streets are run by rival street gangs, religious end-of-the-world nuts, and lone lunatics. There is danger around every corner. Little by little, the characters find each other and try to survive the night.

5. The story mostly works, but it’s really just cobbled together from parts of other movies, and is kind of predictable. Also, given the violent premise of the movie, there is surprisingly little blood and gore. A lot of the violence happens offscreen.

6. Unless you completely turn your brain off, there is no way you will miss the social commentary here. The movie makes bold statements about American capitalism, the merging of religion with national pride, and the unbalanced class system.

7. The ending is a heavy-handed moral lesson about revenge and forgiveness.

8. This movie will play right into the conspiracy theorists that believe America is turning into a police state run by evil super rich people. The “Zeitgeist Movement” Kool-Aid drinkers will think this is a documentary in a few years.

9. This is an entertaining movie that gives you a little to think about. It is louder and dumber than the first one, which many people will appreciate. There are some very chilling scenes, and some good action. But I was left feeling a little empty. It could be a devastating statement on American values. Or it could be a grungy super-violent grindhouse film. But it tries to walk the line between both, so it ends up being neither.
For such an outrageous idea, it’s not a very outrageous movie.